When my oldest was preschool age, I was working full time. We enrolled him in preschool 2 mornings a week, and I set off to develop a preschool curriculum for my mom to do with him on his off days. That lasted about two weeks. (The curriculum development part, not preschool… he loved that.) I have great planning skills, just not always great executions skills. 🙂 I was too busy working full time to create and prep my own preschool program. No harm done, he’s now almost 9, and I don’t think we’ve ruined him yet. If anything, I would have told myself to relax and just enjoy my 3 year old.
When my second kiddo was preschool age, I was no longer working, but I was dealing with a medically complicated third child. We spent more time at doctor’s appointments and therapy sessions than I ever imagined any of my children would. We were fortunate that it was nothing really major, but it caused upheaval in our lives. (If you are a mama that IS dealing with something life threatening or life altering, my heart goes out to you. It’s SO hard to watch your children struggle. I really can’t imagine.) Anyway, learning letters with my preschooler definitely took a backseat. She wasn’t crazy into learning, and I didn’t push it. Probably no harm done, she’s almost 6, and I feel like we’re playing a little catch-up, but she’s finally excited about learning and things are clicking fast.
My third just reached preschool age. Actually, she was 3 in the fall, but as I mentioned before, is a bit more complicated than the first two. Between about 9 and 18 months old, she had basically no development, physical or otherwise. We went to a million appointments, ran a million tests, answered a millions questions and got zero answers. It’s just who she is. With a great team of physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, and a couple encouraging siblings, she is almost on track with her peers. (Yeah!) When she turned 3, I thought we were years from any sort of formal education with her, but a recent burst of language has proven otherwise. Everyday it’s, “I do cool work too, mama?” And how can your resist a 3 year old and “cool” work?!?
I knew I needed something different for her. She isn’t ready for the academic track my other 2 are on, but I couldn’t just make it up as I went along. (I couldn’t do that with 1 kid, I certainly can’t do it with 4!) I looked at a number of options and everything still seemed just a little advanced for her. I needed a gentle introduction. I had heard the Five in a Row program mentioned all over various Facebook groups and homeschool forums, but never really investigated the program. In all honesty, it just didn’t seem to fit my style. But I decided to take a look at the Before Five in a Row program that is specifically designed for children ages 2-4+ and is meant to preserve the early years that are so important for exploration and learning through play. The whole concept is story based which is perfect for H. If there’s anything she loves more than crackers (seriously… they are everywhere!) it’s a book!
Before Five in a Row (B4FIAR) focuses on one book for one week (or more if you choose.) You read that book each day and do different activities to promote language development, science, math, art appreciation, etc. The activities are only intended to lay a foundation for education and provide variety to the parent and child, not present a rigorous academic curriculum. The manual includes suggested activities for each book as well as a section for general learning activities. It is simple and charming, but H really loves it. Of course, you can also click on over to Pinterest and find 15 million more activities you can do for each book! I’m really trying to avoid the Pinterest-hole and keep my activities to a minimum. We are also planning to “row” each book for at least 2 weeks. This gives us the necessary flexibility to be successful without “mom overwhelm”. I created a simple checklist as a guide for each book and to help me keep my expectations in check.
My goal is to share each book we row and some of the activities that we did alongside it. I hope our journey will be helpful for you as you seek to educate your little ones! If you want to check it out for yourself, you can download the Goodnight Moon lesson for free here.